(C2-9) Historically Critical Koran Commentary with Regard to Processes of Acquirement, Transformation and Differentiation between Islam and the Jewish-Christian Tradition

The project, with its working title “Historically Critical Koran Commentary with Regard to Processes of Acquirement, Transformation and Differentiation between Islam and the Jewish-Christian Tradition”, is embedded in the so-called “theology of compassion”. It aims at analysing and commenting various groups of themes of the Koran as regards content in order to thus develop, in the long run, a complete Koran commentary in the German language. The focus of the project is such that it includes both a descriptive and a normative component, which are not examined separately but interdependently.

According to the Islamic self-conception, the Koran was proclaimed over a period of 23 years in the 7th century. There were two different main phases of proclamation: the Meccan phase from 610 to 622 AD, and the Medinan phase from 622 to 632 AD. Many historical incidents and far-reaching social changes took place during this time, most of which can also be found in the Koran. At the same time, the Koran includes numerous stories and elements from the Christian-Jewish tradition and deals repeatedly with Christianity and Judaism.

The project is divided into several subprojects. Each subproject has a thematic focus taken from the Koran. In the analysis, every project staff member faces the Koran text itself, i.e. the verses that belong to the respective corpus of a focus, and also a range of selected exegetes and their statements about the respective verses. Both the Koranic text and the exegetes’ statements are to be considered in their historical context in an initial step.

The development of this descriptive part brings the project inevitably to the normative segment, the aim of which it is to analyse the results achieved in the first part on the basis of the “theology of compassion”. The third section will arrive at a commentary that also integrates today’s life context. The “theology of compassion” provides criteria for a normative exegesis of the Koran. The supreme Koranic maxim is the Koran’s own claim to the message of Mohammed and to itself, “We have not sent you [Mohammed] but as a mercy to the worlds” (Koran 21:107) and this “Book […] is guidance and mercy” (Koran 7:52). Concrete criteria of Koranic hermeneutics can be deduced from this. For the project, a three-step method can be identified: 1. historical contextualisation of the verses and the respective statements of selected exegetes; 2. analysis of the descriptive material on the basis of the criteria of the theology of compassion; 3. analysis of the meaning that the respective verses have for today’s context.


  1. War and peace in the Koran (Mouhanad Khorchide): The subproject deals with the topic of violence in the Koran in the context of acts of war as referred to in the Koran. These are placed in their historical context and analysed.
  2. Faith in the Koran (Mouhanad Khorchide): The Koran invites to believe. The term “imam” (faith), however, is used in different contexts and implications in the Koran. The subproject deals with the Koranic approaches to faith.
  3. “Feminist” Koran hermeneutics (Dr. Dina El Omari, Centre for Islamic Theology): Koranic verses addressing the topic of “gender roles” or “women” are the objects of analysis in this subproject. Some of these verses turn out to be hermeneutic challenges, while others have as yet undiscovered potential.
  4. The term “kufr” in the Koran (Ahmed Sami): The subproject deals with the term “kufr” in the Koran, which is one of the central and at the same time one of the most controversial terms within Islamic theology. The disputes about the term arise from the fact it is this particular term that is the basis for the identification of the own identity of a Muslim community as a cohesive collective, “umma”. It can be seen how the term, over the course of time, could be broadened in order to include other groups that one wanted to exclude from one’s own group. The term has thus been exploited by various groups in Islamic history in order to disassociate themselves from other groups or to declare them enemies, which can legitimise possible acts of violence directed at them. It is in this field of tension that the present work aims to analyse the term “kufr” in the Koran in detail.
  5. Creation theology in the Koran (Mehmet Genc, Centre for Islamic Theology): The subproject is concerned with Koranic verses dealing with the topic of the “creation of the world”.
  6. Jewish-Christian narratives in the Koran? (Catarina Rachik): On the basis of selected narratives in the Koran, this subproject investigates the processes of transformation and differentiation in relation to similar narratives in the Jewish-Christian tradition, particularly in the stories of the prophets.

The Project is part of coordinated project group Exchange among and between ‘world religions’: appropriation – transformation – demarcation.